RACKING UP MILES
Shawn Holloway just doesn’t go for an occasional spin on his bicycle.
Not hardly. Since January he’s logged 4,500 miles, roughly the equivalent of one and one-half times across the U.S. Plus he functions with one leg not normal.
And there’s more. “It involves riding everyday,” said the Panorama schools superintendent, “sometimes as little as two or three miles, sometimes as many as 100 miles.” And just like the postman, nothing stops him from his appointed rounds.
“I’ve ridden in snow, sleet, rain, pretty much any weather condition,” he said.
He doesn’t just rush out the door when the weather turns bad, instead checking the weather forecast he determines the best time to ride. “Sometimes that’s at night with a light,” he explained.
The number of miles ridden isn’t just as exaggerated estimate. He has a Strava app on his cell phone that records the distance traveled.
Holloway hasn’t converted wife Angie and teenage daughters Abbi and Anna. He produced a broad smile when asked if his family ever rides with him. “When I can convince them to go with me,” he said with a
telling explanation. “They aren’t as psychotic about bike riding as I am.”
However, the family does ride on RAGBRAI for several days each summer, an event Holloway has fully completed once.
Currently he’s training for his major yearly event -- the Triple By-Pass in Colorado on July 8. Riders go up Squaw Pass, Loveland Pass and Vail Pass, a total of 120 miles -- 60 up and 60 down -- with about 10,00 feet of climb. “That’s a big day,” he points out.
Holloway has been riding seriously for about six years. His current goal is to ride each day for one year. A fellow superintendent presented him with that challenge.
The trim and tanned Holloway began riding at the suggestion of a physician as something he could do that was athletic and he could feel athletic again. A high school football injury left him with limited mobility in his right knee. He broke his femur through the knee cap and ended up with an infection. (He can’t, for example, run or do sports.)
His two bicycles are modified. “I had to have the pedals shortened to allow my bad knee to pedal freely,” he explained on how he handles this obstacle.
About 90 percent of the time Holloway rides alone. The time he spends on the Raccoon River Valley Trail, county roads and gravel roads just don’t have a physical benefit. “It’s really good thinking time ... I just enjoy getting on the bike and losing myself in thought,” he said. “It’s amazing how many times I have a work related issue and I’ve come up with a solution.”
For a change of pace, he’s recently taken to riding on gravel roads, having bought a steel frame bike that lessens the vibration.
His least favorite place to ride (“because of the hills’) is Lake Panorama where he resides. He rode the 5-1/2 miles to school a couple of times each week this spring. A favorite ride is the 72-mile loop which
includes the RRVT hooking up with a trail through Dallas Center north to Perry and then west to Herndon.
Holloway jokes he’ll ride anywhere. “Riding with the wind is better than riding against it,” he said.
To prepare for the Tripe By-Pass he’s been riding 60-100 miles each Saturday with a group of triathletes (swimming, bike and running) from Waukee. An 80 to 100-mile ride takes four or five hours.
He’s sees a great interest in biking. He often meets familiar riders on the trail and sees familiar vehicles in the parking lot behind PJ’s Drive In. And not just local riders. “I’m always amazed by the out-of-state
plates in the parking lot along with cars from different counties.” Once he came across a family vacationing on the trail and pulling two young children in carts.
“I’ve met people from out-of-state that came to just ride the trail for a long weekend,” Holloway said.
He sees the RRVT as a real positive. “I’m not sure the people understand what a great gem we have running through Panora. Just getting out and exercising and utilizing that trail is somewhat a passion of mine.”
Holloway believes biking is good for business. “I think there’s a positive economic impact for towns along the trail.”
He lists two avid riders in the school system -- sixth grade teacher Karla Lane and triathlete Sandy Leiferman, substitute teacher and assistant track coach.
The only time in the last few years he hasn’t rode a bike for any period of time was when the family vacationed in Mexico and he didn’t want the expense of taking a bike along.